In taking on a new employee—at whatever level, i.e. a baseline employee, a manager, or high-level executive—the company as a whole must feel that the relationship is one where the business runs in a smooth and harmonious manner. As a professional partnership, both parties should be willing to work with the other to work out any differences in style, opinion, etc.
But it is not an equal partnership. An employee who causes headaches within the organization cannot expect to receive respect or support for long. And the organization will pay close attention to every candidate to determine how manageable they are. Examples of “difficult” employees may be found in this article.
So, as a candidate, you may need to reflect on your career history to see if there are patterns of behavior that your managers or coworkers had issue with. Were you often late, for example? Or did you express criticism of others…or perform tasks in ways that conflicted with company policy? Seemingly minor expressions of your personality may have been tolerable by some people, but in the long run may create tension and ultimately lead to reprisal and/or dismissal. Consider the above examples in more detail:
- Insurance company employee A typically arrived at his office just before 9:00 a.m. and often a few minutes late. While his overall work was comparable to other employees’, he was not ready to begin morning meetings on time and coworkers often had to wait for him to get ready before continuing with their own workday. He was considered by coworkers to have a disruptive effect on their own workdays.
- Employee B, a dental hygienist, considered herself to be very friendly, sociable and hardworking. While working with dental patients she would discuss at length her patients’ and her own social activities. Talking about where people were working, their hobbies, families, what kind of music people were listening to, and so on was typical banter in any work environment but she tended to express her dislikes or criticisms…and this was the problem. Telling your patient (your customer) that his choice of music or hairstyle is in bad taste doesn’t encourage repeat business!
- Finally, employee C, working in the administration department of a pharmaceutical company, didn’t like the new template design in a recently-adopted accounting spreadsheet application. Over a half-year period, she continued to use the old accounting platform, ignoring the new application completely until month-end, when she would scramble to migrate data to the official format. This took extra hours of work, distracted her from other tasks, tied up computer resources and put stress on her coworkers. Repeatedly the president asked her to change her methods…and her reluctance ended up in a restructuring of her duties.
To conclude, as a candidate, any potential employer will be keenly interested to determine whether you will work willingly with company policies, take on training, and respond quickly to direction or criticism. And your flexibility can also determine your longevity within your organization.